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Non-operative breast pathology: apocrine lesions
  1. C A Wells,
  2. G A El-Ayat
  1. St Bartholomew’s Hospital, London, UK
  1. Dr C A Wells, 4th Floor, Pathology Block, St Bartholomew’s Hospital, West Smithfield, London EC1A 7BE, UK; c.a.wells{at}


Apocrine metaplasia is a very common finding in the female breast after the age of 25. It is so common that many people regard it as a normal component of the breast. This, however, is only really the case in apocrine sweat glands of the axilla and in the peri-areolar apocrine glands. The apocrine cell does, however, contribute to a number of different breast lesions, some of which are very taxing diagnostically; apocrine variants of both in-situ and invasive cancer are encountered. This review considers the common apocrine metaplastic lesions seen in fibrocystic change as well as apocrine adenoma, apocrine change within sclerosing adenosis, atypical apocrine lesions and apocrine malignancies.

  • apocrine
  • metaplasia
  • breast
  • atypical
  • adenosis
  • apocrine carcinoma

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  • Competing interests: None declared.

  • Abbreviations:
    atypical ductal hyperplasia
    apocrine metaplasia
    androgen receptor
    ductal carcinoma in-situ
    oestrogen receptor
    gross cystic disease fluid protein
    no special type
    papillary apocrine change
    progesterone receptor